National Genealogical Society

Educational Courses

American Genealogical Studies: The Basics 

With the release of American Genealogical Studies: The Basics, NGS is moving its training offerings to the cloud. This new cloud-based learning management system is called Canvas by Instructure.

What Will I Learn?

This independent learning course provides a solid foundation in genealogy. This course is for anyone who is just starting out or wants a quick refresher on genealogical principals. American Genealogical Studies: The Basics consists of four modules covering:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Create A Research Plan
  3. Home Sources
  4. Family Traditions and Connecting with Others

This course will answer the following questions:

  • What is the difference between a pedigree chart and a family group sheet?
  • Why should I provide citations for my personal tree?
  • How do I develop a research plan?
  • What kinds of family papers and memorabilia have genealogical information?
  • How do I record and evaluate various family papers, memorabilia, and family traditions?
  • How do I reach out and connect with others?
  • How do I prepare, conduct, and evaluate an interview?

See the course syllabus to learn more about American Genealogical Studies: The Basics


Since the American Genealogical Studies: The Basics is a cloud-based course, you need either a computer or tablet with an Internet connection to access the lessons, examples, and quizzes. No software or material is loaded onto your computer or tablet. All students work independently.

To optimize your online learning experience, the Canvas system uses the current version of a number of different browsers. To check for your browser compatibility, please see for further information and details.

When Can I Start the Course?

Please allow 3 business days to receive your registration e-mail from Canvas by Instructure. This e-mail provides you with login instructions, which are good for the duration of the course.

Do I Need Anything Further?

Although nothing further is required for this course, when citing genealogical sources NGS strongly recommends the book, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills.1

Note: If you plan to take either Guide to Documentation and Source Citation or the newly revised NGS Home Study Course now named Beyond the Basics (coming soon), Evidence Explained is required.


American Genealogical Studies series



The Basics*



Guide to Documentation and Source Citation*



Beyond the Basics Part 1 (Coming Soon)



*To take the Beyond the Basics (coming soon), one must complete The Basics and Guide to Documentation and Source Citation within a year of signing up for Beyond the Basics.

Register online at the NGS Store now.

Term of Course

NGS gives the participant access to American Genealogical Studies: The Basics for six months from the date of registration.

For those who need extra time, a one-time extension is granted by contacting the NGS Course Administrator at

Refund and Cancellation Policy

All purchases of courses are final. No refunds are issued.

Certificate of Completion

Each person who successfully completes the American Genealogical Studies: The Basics receives a certificate of completion.

Although the National Genealogical Society has a variety of courses available to help you learn about the methods, skills, and standards for certification, NGS is not a licensing body. Therefore no formal genealogical credential or accreditation is implied.

Please refer to the websites of The Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG) or International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen) for their policies or standards for certification or accreditation.

Want Something More?

NGS offers genealogists a number of quality independent learning courses. Besides the cloud-based courses, there are classes available in the PDF format:

  • Introduction to Religious Records
  • Using Federal Population Census Schedules in Genealogical Research
  • Working with Deeds


Contact the NGS Course Administrator at

1 Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2012).


Text Size Increase Text SizeDecrease Text Size

Bookmark and Share